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KTRK-TV’s Ted Oberg tweeted the following yesterday:

Ted Oberg @tedoberg 15h15 hours ago
Need Help – I would love to see invites for recent Houston city council/mayoral fundraisers. Got one? Send it to me: ted.oberg@abc.com

Oh no! Who is next on the list? What is the next big City contract coming around the bend? Who will be the next to return their campaign donations? Who will be the next insider to rat on a competitor – ALLEGEDLY? Who can you trust these days over at City Hall? Another Oberg investigation!

I am thinking that maybe our State Legislators ought to add H-Town City Hall lobbyists to the list of those that couldn’t Open Carry under the bill that is on its way to the House Floor.

Commentary remembers the days when the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce gatherings were a safe place for GOP candidates for president. Those days are long gone. Here is how a Politico article starts today:

In past years, the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hasn’t had much trouble getting Republican presidential prospects to address its annual legislative summit.

But none came this year.

It is immigration reform, STUPID!

Here is the entire Politico piece on the GOP candidates dodging Latino business leaders:
http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/hispanic-business-gop-2016-chamber-commerce-116443.html?hp=r2_3.

Commentary said this on the last day of 2014 about Lisa Falkenberg: “I am thinking Falkenberg will get some major accolades for her great work.”

I am thinking that next time I run into the Chron’s Lisa Falkenberg, I am going to have to snap up a selfie with her before she becomes too famous. I tweeted this yesterday afternoon:

Marc Campos ‏@MarcCommentary 6m6 minutes ago
Way to go @ChronFalkenberg a “powerful voice” for winning Mike Royko Award for Commentary/Column Writing http://asne.org/blog_home.asp?Display=1896

The award is from the American Society of News Editors. Here is from their website:

Mike Royko Award for Commentary/Column Writing

Lisa Falkenberg of the Houston Chronicle will receive $2,500 for winning the Mike Royko Award for Commentary/Column Writing, which recognizes excellence in writing by an individual that expresses a personal point of view. The award is sponsored by the Chicago Tribune in memory of legendary Chicago columnist Mike Royko, who died in 1997.

From the judges:

“With clear, compelling prose and a finely honed sense of outrage, Lisa Falkenberg is a powerful voice for justice and transparency in her Houston community. With painstaking reporting and skillful storytelling, she detailed in a series of columns how Alfred Dewayne Brown, an illiterate black man, was wrongfully convicted of killing a Houston police officer through a series of stunning miscarriages of justice.”

Finalists:
 Petula Dvorak, The Washington Post
 Stephen Henderson, Detroit Free Press

You got it: “Lisa Falkenberg is a powerful voice for justice and transparency in her Houston community.” You can say that again! Nice job Falkenberg!

FYI: Mike Royko was a Pulitzer Prize winning columnist from Chicago who in 1971 also wrote “Boss”, an unauthorized biography of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley. “Boss” was required reading back in the old days. Royko left us way too early.

Craig Biggio has been the Opening Day starting second baseman for the ‘Stros fourteen times. Name the two ‘Stros second basemen that were our Opening Day starting second basemen eight times each?

The NCAA South Regional starts this evening over at NRG in case you care. Tickets are still available. Of the four teams, I don’t know anyone that went to Gonzaga but I think it is located in the state of Washington. I don’t know anyone that went to Utah but Dante’s family has a home out there that they go stay in during vacations. My old friend Ambassador Bob Krueger picked up a graduate degree at Duke and also taught there for a bit. KHOU-TV anchor Lisa Hernandez is a UCLA Bruin and that’s all I have.

State Rep. Sylvester Turner will officially kick-off his campaign tomorrow at The Yard. I wonder if they will be having dollar dogs.

Joe Morgan and Bill Doran of course have been our Opening Day starting second basemen eight different times each.

The player we picked with the first draft choice last year but didn’t sign ended up having a dinged up pitching arm. We still didn’t do our homework and lost out on the top pick.

The ‘Stros return to The Yard one week from this evening to take on last season’s AL Champs – the Royals.

This is funnier and funnier!

Pardon me for LOL!

I am talking about yesterday’s shove-fest over at H-Town City Hall. I wasn’t there but I heard about it via twitter. I am talking about the dueling lobbyists referred to in these tweets:

Katherine Driessen ‏@KatDriessen 1h1 hour ago
Officer says one lobbyist outside council chambers pushed another, will be cited for simple assault #houcouncil

Katherine Driessen ‏@KatDriessen 46m46 minutes ago Houston, TX
The lobbyist who allegedly pushed another outside chambers is Cindy Clifford, according to HPD. She has been cited for simple assault

Mike Morris ‏@mmorris011 17m17 minutes ago
Lobbyist/PR person Cindy Clifford has been cited for simple assault, Class C ticket, for shoving lobbyist Josh Sanders at City Hall #hounews

Mike Morris ‏@mmorris011 4m4 minutes ago
.@CortMc See recent tweets. Yes, cited for Class C simple assault (a ticket). But no, not ‘arrested.’

Here is what maybe started it – from the Chron’s Katherine Driessen and Matt Morris:

Observers presumed Clifford blamed Sanders for recent unflattering headlines that have questioned her adherence to city procurement and lobbying rules. These questions were driven by fundraisers Clifford has hosted for council members approaching the vote, leading two members to return checks from Houston 8 and two others involved in the airport bidding, as well as photos Clifford posted online of her attending events with council members or hosting her birthday party at Parker’s house last fall.

Some of these events occurred during the “quiet period” in the airport procurement process, when bidders were banned from speaking about their bids with city officials.

Let me say that City Hall lobbyists are insiders and if you play the insider game then you have to understand that there are insider rules. We don’t know if Josh handed out some info on Clifford that was for the most part already available online. Driessen, Morris, and KTRK-TV’s Ted Oberg certainly know how to chase down a story on their own. But if Josh did have some info, if you go by insider rules, isn’t he suppose to do his job and hand it over to media types? It is done all the time.

Here is another line from the Driessen and Morris piece:

Those in the hallway gave slightly different versions of the words used, but all agreed Clifford suggested Sanders deserved a wallop, with Sanders inviting Clifford to make good on her idea.

LOL! LOL!

Here is a bit from Ted Oberg’s piece on the match:

But the aftermath of the vote was anything but cozy. A partner in a winning bid was charged with misdemeanor assault for allegedly shoving Joshua Sanders, a lobbyist for a competing deal.

The accused, City Hall lobbyist Cindy Clifford, said little of the incident as she rushed from city hall after winning the airport deal that could mean $500 million in sales for her and her team, many of whom are city insiders.

“Silly, silly,” she said when asked by Ted Oberg Investigates about her allegedly shoving Sanders in a back hallway. “I don’t want to talk to anybody.”

Sanders said a witness “saw Mrs. Clifford approach, threaten, and then shove me.”

“It’s never OK to put unwelcome hands on anyone, and I encourage everyone to stand up against bullying, regardless of their gender, age, or beliefs,” Sanders said in a statement.

Here is all of Oberg’s story: http://abc13.com/573216/.

They should have let it go the distance.

Then for sure we would have heard someone say “down goes Sanders, down goes Sanders!”

I am going to be on the lookout for a rematch or at least a sequel.

We all know that Cleveland visits The Yard on Opening Day in eleven days. When was the last time Cleveland played in a World Serious?

The Chron’s Teddy Schleifer sent this stunning and surprising note out last night:

Hi everyone —

I’m writing with some sad news that will be public in the morning: This week is my final week here at the Chronicle. Starting next month, I’ll be writing about national politics for CNN Politics in D.C., a new adventure that will give me the chance to cover the presidential campaign and the big picture as a young reporter. The move comes much sooner than I expected, but the opportunity arose, and I took it.

My time in Houston politics has been beyond wonderful — and that’s thanks to you. As a new face covering an old game, it could’ve been excruciatingly difficult to break in. But you embraced me and gave me a chance, and I’ll leave Houston politics as avid a booster of it as there can be. I know I’ll miss it.

I’ll be in Houston for the next week or so and will always be reachable on my personal email: teddyschleifer@gmail.com or on my cell: 914-426-4465. I’ll be back in town soon enough — I hear there’s a presidential campaign headquartered down the road — and I anticipate those of you involved in 2016 will hear from me in not too long.

Keep in touch — I mean it. And once again, thank you.

Teddy

Here is how I replied:

Good for you. You did an outstanding job the months you were here and you will be a great addition to CNN.

He hasn’t even been here a year but I already know he is going to be hard to replace. He certainly did his homework, his preparation was thorough, and he got up to speed on our politics. He took the Chron’s political coverage to a different level. He certainly ramped up the Chron’s coverage of the Mayoral race this year. I wonder what the Chron has planned now and I wonder if “The Horseshoe” will continue.

Cleveland lost to the Fish in seven in the 1997 World Serious of course.

Baseball always keeps giving. Here is from the Chron:

Former Astros pitcher Jarred Cosart is being investigated by Major League Baseball for gambling, with his potential involvement in one of sports’ oldest, strictest taboos having been revealed via one of society’s newest, mixed blessings: social media.

You mean there is an app for placing a bet with a bookie via twitter!

These tweets came out yesterday:

Teddy Schleifer ‏@teddyschleifer 3m3 minutes ago
Just in: Houston police union is about to announce that @SylvesterTurner has received their endorsement for mayor. Very early for @HPOUTX.

Teddy Schleifer ‏@teddyschleifer 54s55 seconds ago
@blogawful @SylvesterTurner Very, very early bet. In 2009, last open race, @HPOUTX endorsed Gene Locke in August — five months from now.

Teddy Schleifer ‏@teddyschleifer 7m7 minutes ago
Why such early @HPOUTX endorsement, w/not full field? Came in August in ’09. Ray Hunt: “By August, everbody’s already run their campaigns.”

And here is a Chron story on Rep. Turner receiving the police and fire fighter endorsements: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/Firefighters-endorsement-of-Turner-draws-heat-in-6156654.php.

Most folks expected Rep. Turner to get the endorsements. Most folks are not even surprised that they were announced this early in the process. Most folks also know that deal or no deal, City of H-Town pensions are going to be a major issue in this campaign so most folks know that Rep. Turner is on course to hover around maintaining the status quo – got it!

Commentary is going to say that the folks that are running the various mayoral campaigns in H-Town this season are all pretty smart. They know what they are doing and what they have to do to finish first.

Most folks know that Killer Bs Jeff Bagwell (1,529), Craig Biggio (1,175), and Big Puma (1,090) are the only ‘Stros with over 1,000 career RBIs as a ‘Stro. Name the player at number 4 with 942 RBIs?

Remember last year’s Sports Illustrated story that said we were on course to win the 2017 World Serious. This tweet came out yesterday:

Minor League Promos ‏@MiLBPromos 20h20 hours ago
When the @FresnoGrizzlies go Back to the Future on 8/15 they’ll be giving away @astros World Series rings!

Then Commentary tweeted this:

Marc Campos‏@MarcCommentary 19h19 hours ago
2017 @Astros World Series Champion Rings via @FresnoGrizzlies #BackToTheFuture #FluxCapacitor http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/boldest-giveaway-in-baseball–astros-triple-a-team-makes-2017-world-series-rings-163719068.html … pic.twitter.com/kSzifiCSOE

Baseball folks are a superstitious bunch so this was tweeted last night:

Brian McTaggart ⚾️ ‏@brianmctaggart 2h2 hours ago
Fresno Grizzlies just sent out statement saying they have decided not to give out 2017 Astros championship rings as promotion item this year

And:

Brian McTaggart ⚾️ ‏@brianmctaggart 2h2 hours ago
“We appreciate that our affiliate is as optimistic as our fans are about the future of the Astros,” Reid Ryan said in statement.

Oh, well. Maybe they can save the rings and hand them out after the 2017 season.

Jose Cruz of course is number 4 on the list of career RBIs as a ‘Stro with 942.

Commentary doesn’t go to The Yard for the grub. I will have a hot dog now and then. Dante usually goes with the chicken fingers. Here is the latest food offering that will make its debut this season. From the Chron:

For the Astros park, Aramark touts a chicken and waffle cone, which comes stuffed with mashed potatoes, fried chicken, drizzled with honey mustard. That will be available at Street Eats in section 126.

I will stick to my hot dog.

Bill King had a reception last night at the Cadillac Bar and it was well attended. There was a ton of enthusiasm in the room.

This from the Chron about The Dean’s SB 135:

Texas senators on Monday unanimously voted to scrap the state’s controversial “pick-a-pal” method of selecting grand jurors, a sweeping reform for a system plagued for years by complaints of favoritism and manipulation.

If The Dean’s bill passes the House and reaches the Governor’s desk, I wonder if Lisa Falkenberg will be invited to the bill signing. After all, she got the discussion going.

I said this yesterday: Everybody knows that Jeff Bagwell was our Opening Day starting first baseman from 1991-2005. In all but two (1991 and 1994) of those Opening Days he batted third. Who batted third in the 1991 and 1994 Opening Days?

The Chron E-Board kind of put it on Sen. Ted Cruz today. Here are some lines:

We’re not so happy about his disdain for 30 million Texans he was elected to represent just a couple of years ago.

And:

Unlike Kay Bailey Hutchison, his predecessor in the Senate, Cruz isn’t in Washington to get things done for his state. He’s not there to govern. He sees himself as an agitator, a disruptive force who disdains crafting solutions to problems or compromising with his colleagues toward a pragmatic end.

Here is the entire E-Board take on Cruz: http://www.chron.com/opinion/editorials/article/Open-secret-6153711.php.

Of course, Sen. Cruz doesn’t give a rat’s arse what the E-Board thinks.

I try to stay away from Middle East issues, but I saw this tweet yesterday:

Bill Kelly retweeted
Edward-Isaac Dovere ‏@IsaacDovere 46m46 minutes ago
James Baker joins the White House in calling out Netanyahu http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/james-baker-blasts-benjamin-netanyahu-116338.html

Here is a bit from Politico:

It’s not just Democrats and White House officials who’ve got problems with Benjamin Netanyahu.

Blasting “diplomatic missteps and political gamesmanship,” former Secretary of State James Baker laid in hard to the Israeli prime minister on Monday evening, criticizing him for an insufficient commitment to peace and an absolutist opposition to the Iran nuclear talks.

Here is the Politico story:
http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/james-baker-blasts-benjamin-netanyahu-116338.html?hp=r1_3_b2.

On foreign policy, Secretary Baker certainly has respect. PBS is airing a show on Secretary Baker this evening. Did you know that Baker was the GOP nominee for Texas AG back in 1978 and was defeated by Mark White? Now you do.

Well, another day, another Dome deal. This one comes in at $242 million. All I can say is sell this version to the community. Here is the Chron story: http://www.chron.com/houston/article/New-Urban-Land-Institute-plan-for-Astrodome-calls-6153207.php.

Craig Biggio of course was the number three hitter on Opening Day of 1991 and 1994.

Thirteen Days until Opening Day!

Cruz Missile

I have to give a shout out to Teddy Schleifer of the Chron for breaking the Sen. Ted Cruz running for president story Saturday evening. It has been a top national story ever since.

I heard the phrase “Cruz missile” on “Today” this morning. I am thinking we will be hearing it a lot over the coming months.

That being said, it really should not come as a surprise that Sen. Cruz is running for president. He has not been your typical U.S. Senator from Texas. Over the last couple of years, we haven’t seen him spending the weekends and recesses touring the state and speaking at local chambers of commerce banquets and Rotary clubs. You don’t see him hanging with the locals or riding in parades. That’s not how he has been rolling. Instead he has been where the national action is – early primary and caucus states and high profile conferences. Heck, he is not even announcing from the state he represents. What did you expect?

On “Today” this morning, a pundit called Sen. Cruz a second tier presidential candidate. I am not going to assess his chances. I will say that when he first got into the U.S. Senate race a few years ago a lot of folks didn’t give him much of a chance.

Everybody knows that Jeff Bagwell was our Opening Day starting first baseman from 1991-2005. Name our Opening Day starting first baseman in 1990?

This past Saturday the Chron E-Board gave a Thumbs Down to the Tour de Houston folks for playing in the Mayoral race – allegedly. Check this:

(Thumbs down) Very crafty of Tour de Houston organizers to route last weekend’s 60-mile bike ride through a park named after a mayoral candidate supported by former aides of the current mayor. This affirms our belief that only sewage treatment plants should be named after living politicians unless, of course, they are George or Barbara Bush.

Pardon the pun but that is so bush league! I wonder if they set up the bike route streets with the least number of #HoustonPotholes.

You have to admire the E-Board these days for how they are getting in the game so to speak.

City of H-Town pensions again got some run in Saturday’s Chron. Mike Morris wrote the piece. Here is one line from the article:

The rising cost of pensions has caused stress at City Hall for more than a decade; Houston is paying $353 million into its pensions this fiscal year, almost twice what it spends on trash pickup, parks and libraries combined.

Here is the entire Morris story:
http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/A-complex-proposition-advocating-for-pension-6149057.php.

I have said it before. This issue is here to stay.

In 1990, Glenn Davis was our Opening Day starting first baseman against Cincy of course.

Opening Day is two weeks from today.

Now that Teddy Schleifer of the Chron has put out a story that the Harris County Sheriff is ACTUALLY running for Mayor, the next story will be on when the Sheriff will ACTUALLY announce, then there will be one on the Sheriff’s announcement – got it.

Of course, there will be a story next Sunday on State Rep. Sylvester Turner’s OFFICIAL CAMPAIGN KICK-OFF from The Yard.

I am trying to think. Has Ben Hall or Oliver Pennington officially announced and gotten the Teddy Treatment in the Chron?

In the race for H-Town Mayor, so far, #HoustonPotholes and pensions are the issues that have gotten some run in the local media. What’s next?

Well according to the Chron on the Sheriff running maybe more on this:

…will portray himself as a fiscally responsible executive who has directly managed a large, complex agency and strengthened the financial health of the sheriff’s office…

I’m not complaining, so stay tuned!

How many times was Nolan Ryan our Opening Day starting pitcher?

The Chron E-Board today comes out in support of doing away with straight-party voting. I don’t agree.

A ton of folks vote straight ticket in Texas. I am going to guess that these folks are just interested in voting for folks from one party. I can certainly relate.

If you take away the option of entering the straight-ticket selection, I am guessing that these folks will just enter individual candidates of the same party. I don’t think eliminating the straight-ticket option is going to get these folks to think about splitting their ticket. I can certainly relate.

Most GOPers that get elected in their party primary are pretty much the same on issues like immigration reform, same sex marriage, Choice – you get the picture. The Dem and GOP party platforms are canyons apart, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to tell the candidates apart.

I don’t think those that vote straight-party are complaining about the current set-up. Are those that don’t complaining?

This is much ado about nothing if you ask me. Here is the E-Board take:

Anytime lawmakers start tinkering with rules on how we vote, it’s only natural to look for thinly disguised ulterior motives. We hate to be cynical, but whether it’s redistricting schemes, voter ID requirements or other rule-changing matters, party aggrandizement is usually at the core of the so-called reform.

Such may be the motive behind a bill that would eliminate straight-party voting, and yet the idea is worth considering. The sponsor of House Bill 1288, state Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, points out that Texas is one of only 10 states that allows voters to walk into the booth and either punch a button or click a box to deliver their votes entirely to the candidates of one party.

The problem with straight-ticket voting is that it occasionally results in manifestly unqualified candidates being swept into office by herd-mentality voters, particularly in judicial and other down-ballot races where the candidates aren’t well known. According to a recent study conducted by Austin Community College, 61 percent of voters in the state’s 46 largest counties took advantage of the straight-ticket option in 2014, the highest percentage ever in a gubernatorial election year.

Eliminating straight-ticket voting won’t be a panacea, as Glenn Maxey of the Texas Democratic Party pointed out to a House committee this week. Maxey, a former state representative from Austin, noted that big-city voters have to contend with ballots so long that they’ll be spending half an hour or so making their choices. Lines of waiting voters will be as long as the ballots themselves. They might decide it’s not worth the effort.

Even more problematic, very few voters will be familiar with either the names or policy positions of every candidate. They will know that the Democratic candidate, in all likelihood, will be to the left of the Republican candidate, whether the race is for a judicial, executive or legislative office. Unless they’ve made a detailed study of every candidate’s background, experience and political views, then voting straight-ticket is a logical way to choose.

Wayne Thorburn, a Republican Party consultant, has pointed out additional problems with eliminating the straight-ticket option. Writing in the Texas Tribune recently, he noted that down-ballot candidates will have to spend more money building up their name recognition and seeking the support of special-interest groups. “That,” in Thorburn’s words, “will only lead to more nefarious ‘slate’ marketers selling advertisements in voter guides in return for an endorsement.” Harris County knows the slate shysters only too well.

It’s a close call, since support for a party platform despite a few weak candidates on the party slate is a legitimate position to hold. Still, we come down on the side of the Simmons bill. If eliminating straight-party voting results in a more thoughtful, better-informed voter, then that’s a good thing in a state where voting percentages are outrageously low. Even without the straight-ticket button, voters still can vote a straight ticket; it just may take awhile longer. Voters also have the option of consulting reliable information guides, whether produced by a hometown newspaper or the League of Women Voters.

We need to be about getting people to the polls, not eliminating choices.

Nolan Ryan was our Opening Day starting pitcher three times of course – 1982, 1985 and 1986.

The team is starting to whittle down the roster.

Name the only two ‘Stros who have been in the Opening Day starting line-up the last three seasons?

The new norm in Texas is campus carry and the AG suing over the extending of family leave benefits to same-sex married couples. Is there any relief in sight?

I guess it is time to start paying attention to college basketball.

One of the online posts from the last couple of days asks this question: How is the Harris County Sheriff going to make a living after he resigns? I wonder how much voters care about this.

I am thinking folks really want to know who will do a good job of running the City, dealing with finances, and attacking potholes.

I wonder if the Sheriff will start getting twitter bombed like some of the other candidates.

On, Tuesday evening, Maricruz and John Cody from La Porte took their three kids to the Rodeo and ended up getting handcuffed and detained in front of their kids. Maricruz also got falsely accused of shoplifting. What a shame and what a nightmare!

I guess the security thought they fit the shoplifting profile. They were Latino looking. They were the wrong color. Here is from the Chron on the incident:

Police later took off Cody’s handcuffs and went with him to collect his two other daughters.

“My kids have never seen anything like that before…” he said. “They were pretty upset.”

His wife and eldest daughter were released about two hours after the ordeal began.

Several law enforcement officers eventually apologized for how the incident was handled and told them they were free to go to the carnival or come back another day, but they told the family they had been banned from NRG Center, Cody said.

Maricruz, meanwhile, is still upset.

“She judged us, tried us, found us guilty,” she said, of the deputy who detained her. “She was adamant we had the earrings. … It was something very hard for me to watch, my daughter brought in in handcuffs, searched, treated like a criminal.”

And:

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo officials said they had recently learned about the incident and were reaching out to the Codys.

“The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo wants all of its guests to have the best experience possible while visiting our event,” Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo officials said in an email on Wednesday.

“We want to extend our apologies to the Cody family for the problems they encountered as show guests, and are reaching out to them to help us resolve this situation,” the email stated. “They will be offered a day of hospitality here at the show, including rodeo and carnival tickets.”

Here is the entire Chron story: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Family-rodeo-outing-turns-to-hellish-nightmare-6144054.php.

Well at least the mighty Rodeo knows their security screwed up. If I was the family, I would settle for a couple of all expense paid suites to a couple of future Rodeo performances – at the very least. They deserve better!

Second baseman Jose Altuve and catcher Jason Castro are the only two ‘Stros who have started on Opening Day the last three seasons (2012-2014) of course.

Pitcher Scott Feldman will get the starting nod on Day Two of the season.

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